There is one aspect of the final debt deal from DC that took me by surprise. I was convinced the 2% reduction in payroll taxes would be extended through 2012. On July 12th I wrote about this and got it completely wrong. Not only did I think there would be a one year extension of the existing holiday; I forecast that the subsidy would actually be increased. I was steered in the wrong direction by the Boss himself. On July 11th Obama stated:
I want to be crystal clear. Nobody has talked about increasing taxes now. Nobody has talked about increasing taxes next year. We’re talking 2013 and the out years.
In the same press conference he added:
(cuts in FICA payroll taxes) would be a component of this overall package.
I don’t think the President said these words without having some sort of understanding with Speaker Boehner. Two weeks ago an economic stimulus was part of the plan. Today there is nothing. I think I understand what may have happened. When push came to shove the FICA holiday got shelved. That had to happen to get a deal done. Why? Because we are so broke we can’t afford the stimulus.
The deal that was reached to get the debt ceiling raised results in a 2012 reduction in expenses of only $21b. This comes to 1/8th of a percent of GDP. Meaningless. But if the tax holiday had been rolled for another year it would have resulted in $120b of additional 2012 expenses (net -$100b). This amount (plus the interest on it) would have wrecked the economics of the overall plan. So what was originally hailed as a good idea (by both sides) was shot down in the end.
I think this is an important development. It points to two things. The first is that we are economically vulnerable and we have no traditional responses. The second is that we are going to hit a very big economic wall on January 1, 2012.
The article continues at Business Insider.
“We’ve had too much talk the last few days of Republicans as early as this morning, Republican leaders in the Senate saying there will be no revenue. That’s not going to happen. Otherwise, the trigger is going to kick in. The only way we can arrive at a fair arrangement for the American people with this joint committee is to have equal sharing. It’s going to be painful. Each party if they do the right thing, it’s going to be painful for them because to be fair, we have to move forward. There has to be equal spending cuts, there has to be some revenue that matches that,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said on the floor of the Senate right before voting started on the debt deal.
Increased revenue from taxes was not included in the debt compromise.